Two hearings that will effect lake front areas in South Haven were held last week. Both are for improvements to park land and both were approved to be submitted for funding to the Department of Natural Resources’ Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF). Matching funds from local agencies are required.
On Monday, March 24, the Van Buren County Commission held a public hearing on proposed stabilization of the Syndicate Park dune area adjacent to Northpoint Preserve in a critical dunes area. Here a large dune area is eroding and moving east at over 4 feet per year and threatening to bury several homes; all as a result of heavy use by visitors to the park and ORVs.
Syndicate Park residents stated their strong support for stabilizing the dunes. However, they are concerned that the managed trail system will bring more visitors to the area. On the other hand, they want to keep a trail for access to the beach and would like that to include ORVs.
The residents and others from Bloomingdale area agreed that the property should not become an ORV park, which of course is NOT the intention of the county. The intent is to restore the dune and offer a managed trail system for beach access and for affording views from the dune. All of the other trails in the area will be closed and blocked off to allow for restoration efforts to succeed.
Other landowners want to continue to use ORVs to access the beach on a trail from the residential area to the beach. The County is willing to work with these landowners for a multiuse trail to the beach. However, it will depend on what is allowed in the permit from MDEQ.
The project will entail blocking the other existing ORV trails to keep the ORVs off of the restoration areas. The County will also work with local and county authorities to help police this area as trespassing, alcohol and drug use and other inappropriate behaviors of visitors continue to be a concern of the residents.
The county committed to $88,500 for local match. However, much of this will be money from the Van Buren Conservation District. After the public hearing, the County approved submitting the grant proposal to MDNR which is due on April 1.
On Wednesday, March 26, the South Haven Area Recreation Authority (SHARA) and Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy jointly hosted a public hearing on proposed improvements at Pilgrim Haven Park and approved submitting the project to the MNRTF.
Phase 1 will provide a barrier-free overlook, a ramp to the beach, accessible parking, and planting of new trees to create an oak savannah plant community. The project budget is $100,000 of which $50,000 is to be local match.
Click here to enlarge plan.